NORTH LIBERTY — Ron Paul eked out a win in the North Liberty precinct in North Central Junior High, earning 68 votes to Mitt Romney’s 66.
A mix of cheers and groans erupted in the junior high gymnasium when the chairman announced Paul as the winner.
Supporters made plans to go out for drinks to celebrate, while Romney proponents continued to hand out stickers.
Many of the voters stuck around to hear the winner announced, watching precinct officials sort through stacks of slips of paper and push them into piles at center court of the gym floor.
Romney in 2008 won the precinct at the North Liberty junior high, 180 E. Forevergreen Road, earning 75 votes to second place Mike Huckabee’s 66 votes.
A total of 217 voters turned out for this year’s Republican caucus at the North Liberty site, down slightly from the last Republican Caucus in 2008 when 232 voters turned out in the precinct, according to the Johnson County Auditor.
Jeff Hall, 26, of North Liberty, came out with his 6-month-old son Dallas in tow to caucus for the first time because, he said, “Something’s got to change.”
“We can’t keep going like this until he’s in kindergarten,” Hall said. “We wouldn’t have anything left.”
Hall said he was a registered Democrat coming into Tuesday’s Caucus and had to change his party affiliation at the door. But it was important for him to turn out.
“I’ve been trying hard to find one good thing about Obama, and I can’t,” he said.
Hall said he entered the North Liberty precinct Tuesday with intentions to vote for Rick Perry, but he changed his mind after hearing the stump speeches and cast his vote for Paul.
“Perry is losing steam, and I was on the fence about Paul,” he said. “But that guy gave a good speech.”
Vanessa Christensen, 22, of North Liberty, said she was wading through her candidate options last week and decided to sit down and do her own research. She too landed on the side of Rick Perry.
And even though he didn’t have a representative speaking for him Tuesday in the North Liberty junior high, Christensen said she stood by her man, who finished at the site in fifth place, earning just eight votes.
“I just like what he did in Texas, and I feel he could make a good president,” she said.
Brian Stevens, 37, of North Liberty, said he wanted to come to his first-ever Caucus, in part, for the experience. The Romney supporter said he’s from Nebraska and never felt like his vote mattered much.
“By the time we got to vote in Nebraska, the election was pretty much over,” he said.